The Past Is All Around Us

Disclosure: BJ&A has done work for both Suzuki and the7stars

 It’s been a good few weeks for the old git community, even the Cynical Old Gits in honour of whom the Cog Blog is named. We’ve had the 30th anniversary of Zenith, the first of the media agencies to be spun off from the old full-service ad agency model; ‘Campaign’s 50th birthday; and only this week the 30th anniversary of the demise of the first real agency I worked in, Davidson Pearce.

Davidson Pearce was a great agency. Based on the fact that agencies are only ever as good as the people who work there it’s interesting to reflect that the agency spawned media luminaries like Ray Kelly (one of the founders of TMD, that in turn became Carat), Mike Sell (founder of Total Media), and Allan Rich (founder of The Media Business, that became MediaCom); as well as creative geniuses like Norman Berry and Allen Thomas.

The ads weren’t half bad either – the PG Tips chimps, The Observer Citizen Kane spoof, and a fantastic print campaign for Colt air conditioning stand out in my memory but there were dozens more.

This week many of us gathered to remember the agency (and each other). It was of course an excellent afternoon, and (as was only right) evening. Thank goodness for large-print name tags.

I’m sure the Zenith guys had a brilliant reunion too; as indeed do the Leo Burnetters – given Burnett was blessed with super-efficient account people those reunions happen every year.

This started me thinking whether in 30 years’ time the likes of the large platforms, the programmatic salesmen, the DMPs and data aggregators will gather to remember the good old days when algorithms were truly algorithms and java scripts argued the toss over a pint or two (OK I’ve run out of analogy here) with pixels. Happy days.

It’s easy for any generation to look back and say yes, we were the golden ones. We may have been; but someone will say no it was far better further back, or whenever. But I doubt there would be many saying it is all far more fun now.

‘Campaign’s’ 50th birthday edition is wonderful. A nostalgia-fest that truly captures the industry’s journey over the magazine’s life-time. It’s also a printed thing – it simply wouldn’t work as well in any other format, although you can of course trail bits of it very successfully online.

That’s not to say print is always great and online always sucks, the media world isn’t binary despite the efforts of far too many ignorant people to try to make it so (TV is dead, print is great, and all that crap).

But sometimes print is great. Kudos to the Account Planning Group (the APG) for their ‘Eat Your Greens’ book of essays on how to improve your brand’s health by considering the facts as expressed by a stellar array of writers, bloggers and thinkers. Far better as a printed thing if you ask me.

Finally, in ‘cynical old gits’ week I shall set aside my innate sense of cynicism to offer huge congratulations to my friends at Suzuki and the7stars for winning Gold at the IPA Ad Effectiveness Awards.

I may be wrong, but I think this is the first time a media agency has won one of these without a creative agency co-author. Certainly, there weren’t any in the year I was a judge. Suzuki is a brave and innovative client – and they’ve found themselves the perfect fit in the7stars.

‘Study the past to divine the future’ said Confucius. Probably when he was at JWT.



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